Credit Card Numbers are Stolen More Often Than Other Data
Of all the types of information that can be stolen, thieves steal credit card numbers the most. According to an Identity Fraud Report from Javelin Strategy & Research, most data breach victims in 2011 had their credit card numbers stolen Ė 43%. And only 22% of debit card numbers were stolen. Fewer people had their social security numbers compromised Ė 16% - and only 9% of checking account numbers were compromised.
Credit card numbers could be stolen more often because theyíre used more often, especially in online transactions. Hackers often target companies that store credit card numbers from millions of consumers. For example, a major payment processing service was hacked in early 2012 compromising up to 10 million Visa and MasterCard users.
The good news is that itís relatively easier to recover from credit card fraud than any other type of fraud. If you catch and report fraudulent credit card charges soon enough, you may not be liable for any of the charges. By Federal law, the most you could be liable for is $50. When only your credit card number is compromised, youíre not liable for any of the charges. Still itís wise to report fraud quickly so you can get a new account number, one that thieves donít have access to.
When it comes to fraud, debit cards donít offer the same protection as credit cards. You could suffer unlimited loss if you wait too long to report debit card fraud. Whatís worse is that you wonít have access to the funds that were stolen from you until the bank decides that youíre not liable for the charges and reverses the transactions. Thatís why itís important to monitor your checking account frequently and report fraudulent charges as soon as possible.
The increased use of debit cards and decline of check writing may explain why checking account numbers are compromised the least. However, itís still important to keep your checking account information safe, especially since the thief has almost direct access to your cash if they have access to your checking account.
Using stolen checking account information, a thief could create counterfeit checks against your account. If the bank processes the checks, your legitimate transactions could bounce causing a slew of overdrafts fees. You may not even notice the damage if youíre not in the habit of checking your account balance daily.
A thief could do a lot of damage with your social security number including complete identity theft and even tax fraud. Keep this number the safest since having it compromised can be catastrophic.